Tuesday, January 24, 2023

2023 Already Underway!

Wow, it seems like I was thinking about 2023 being almost here, and now, the first month is almost gone! 

We had a wonderfully holiday, first with family celebrations here in Washington, and then a road trip to Missouri where we spent holiday time with our daughter and her family as well as our siblings. We tacked on a few days in a cabin in Branson before beginning the return trek.

So, we admit to being crazy with our choice of driving instead of flying, which resulted in 8 of our 14 days of “the trip” being “on the road” (and I do mean literally driving 8-12 hours on each of those days). We were pretty tired by the time we got back home!

I am just now getting back into routines, so this week I got the paints out, after several weeks of holidays and travels. I always feel like it takes me some time to get “the feel” back. 

I started with a simple painting of my favorite bird from Missouri, a male cardinal. For this one, there was not a tutorial to follow, but my teacher Maria did a painting from this reference photo, and I copied Maria’s painting, using my own “process.”

Reference photo available from a site that allows free use of the photos:



My “version:”



It’s always nice to travel, it’s especially nice to see family, but it’s also great to be back home, with our routine of spending time with our Washington family, enjoying our weekly Sunday dinners with 9 of us at our house, after our wonderful church service with our son Pastor and our grandson Worship/Discipleship Pastor.

Best Wishes for a Blessed 2023,
Barbara

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Watercolor Art “12 Days of Christmas” (Part 3)

Here are the remaining Christmas 2022 art works (not yet shared).

I’ll be taking a break from art until mid-January or so, while we celebrate Christmas with our family here in Washington and then drive across the country to Missouri, where we will celebrate with our daughter/family and our siblings.











From one of my Advent devotionals: 

Jesus came to bridge the gap between us and God. He came to bring the hope of Heaven to our lives. Jesus was born to die for our sins, to show us the love of the Father. Jesus also came to advance the Kingdom of God on earth. To be our bridge in making right our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit helps in those efforts, empowering us and equipping us to be the children of God and to live as He calls us to live. - Janelle Keith

And to close out my thoughts of 2022, this verse that has had several different applications for me throughout the years. It’s a verse I love to pray over loved ones (specific ones at specific times):

“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭17‬-‭18‬ ‭CSB‬‬


#AdventDevotional #watercolorchickadees #watercolorsugarcookies #watercolorsnowman #watercolorcardinals #watercolorhedgehog

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Watercolor Art “12 Days of Christmas” (Part 2)

In today’s post I am sharing three more of my art pieces from this year’s “12 Days of Christmas” watercolor classes from Maria Raczynska.







Today I am focusing on the profound reminders from my pastor’s sermon today (I am blessed to have my son as my pastor), in his message “Who is the Christ of Christmas?” 

Pulling out one of the most meaningful parts of the sermon for me, “The Christ of Christmas is TRUSTWORTHY.” 

Pastor Mark pointed out that in our present culture, there has been an erosion of trust. It is sad. He said, “But Christ is always trustworthy. He can be trusted to BE who He says He is, to do what He says He will do. We have an anchor, a foundation.”

My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
-John 10:27-28

#WhoistheChristofChristmas #watercolorChristmas #12daysofChristmaswatercolor #watercolorgingerbreadcookies #watercolorcandycane #watercolorstocking #Christistrustworthy

Friday, December 16, 2022

Watercolor Art “12 Days of Christmas” (Part 1)

I have always loved Christmas time. For so many reasons I love it. Those reasons and feelings have, of course, changed through the years. It’s a different feeling now that I’m a great grandmother (another way of saying that so many years have passed) than it was when my children were small. I remember those days like they were yesterday, and it was such a joyous (and fun) time. 

Today’s feelings are more somber, more reflective, more emotional, more heart-full. 

But still, Christmas time is a special time for me. 

Of course it’s special because it’s a celebration of the coming to earth of the Messiah, my Savior, who came to earth so that he could live as a man and die on the cross as the payment for my sins (and for all those who accept His gift of salvation). 

But in my own little private way, it just has a special place in my heart, for many reasons, most of which I am unable to articulate.
But I feel them.

Probably because of how much I love Christmas, I love doing art that has a Christmas theme. I follow various artists for their watercolor tutorials and classes. The artist that I have followed the most consistently since I started with this new hobby about three years ago is Maria Raczynska. Each year she does a 12 Days of Christmas series. I do not typically do all of the pieces of her 12 days, but this year I did most of them.

During the next few days, I will post a few of the pieces, along with a devotional thought from my Advent Study, Prepare Him Room by Susie Larson. I did this same study last year, and it may not be a good sign that, as I read each day’s devotional, I feel like I’m reading it for the first time. But then again, sometimes when I read a Scripture passage, I feel as if I’m seeing it for the first time, and I KNOW I’ve read the Bible through multiple times and some passages MANY times. Oh well, I suppose it’s the nature of humankind. Or typical for me, at least.



Prayer from Today’s Devotional (Scripture Passage: Luke 16, December 16)
King Jesus, You’ve made Your heart perfectly clear. I’m not sure why I miss it so easily. You care about the lost, the hurting, and the broken. You came to heal broken hearts, bind up their wounds, and save their souls, just as You’ve done for me. Forgive me for being so wrapped up in my own story that I miss the bigger story [that] You’re writing on the earth today. I want to be creative, innovative, and profoundly generous for Your name’s sake. I want to steward opportunities with an otherworldly wisdom from above. Help me to live like Your promises are true. I’m just passing through, on my way to live forever with You. Amen. (Susie Larson)


Three Pieces from 12 Days of Christmas






(I paint chickadees often. I think I’m drawn to them because (1) they’re so cute and (2) it is a bird that we see in Missouri and in Washington.)


These are busy times, but I am thankful for my hobby and for having time to reflect on God’s blessings each day. 

His love is overwhelming.

I believe HE IS CRAZY ABOUT ME!!! (So undeserving am I!)

#12daysofChristmasWatercolor #blackcappedchickadee #evergreeninsnow #candlesinthesnow #watercolor #prepareHimroom #advent #Christmas

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Let My Teaching Fall Like Rain


Let my teaching fall like rain and my word settle like dew,
 like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants.
 Deuteronomy 32:2 CSB

I am 75 years old, and I honestly cannot remember a time when I didn’t think of myself as a teacher. As the oldest of five children, we spent a lot of time “playing school,” and I was the “head teacher” in all those scenarios, presenting report cards to our parents when they would return from a church meeting, during which time I had been “in charge” of the younger siblings. 

“Always the teacher.” That’s what my parents said. 

My first actual public school teaching experience was when I was in the sixth grade. Seriously. That year, at a little school in Jessieville, Arkansas, the fifth grade (my sister’s class) and sixth grade were all in one class. Our (frankly) incompetent teacher would sometimes direct me to teach reading to the fifth grade. I rather enjoyed it.

The phrase “I was a teacher” is really not a part of my vocabulary. 

I AM A TEACHER.

It is part of who God created me to be. It was always my calling. When I was old enough to think/talk about vocations (and calllings), I would always say that my first calling was to be a wife and mother. After that, it was to be a teacher. It went without saying that I would study education when I went to college.

At Southwest Baptist University, I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in social studies and minors in English and secondary education. My teacher certification from the state of Missouri was (and is—my Missouri certifications are lifetime) in 7-12 social studies and English, and K-12 Gifted. A few years after that, I completed the coursework to obtain a lifetime certificate in elementary (K-6) and subsequently earned a Master in Education from Drury University (Missouri).

Recently I read a blog post about living in the “now,” forgetting the past and not thinking about the future. I get it. There are parts of that philosophy that I agree with, and I certainly understand the “Look, I am doing a new thing” passage of Scripture. But, for me, while I am loving the “now,” I find it to be a good thing to reflect upon the past, because it is so full of blessings. I like to think about the future, too, as there is so much to look forward to. 

So, I believe I can appreciate and be blessed by the past and the future and the now.

Along those lines, recently when I was reflecting on the opportunities I have had to “be a teacher” (and the many lives I was blessed to touch—and be touched by), I made a list of some of those teaching experiences that came to mind. In all honesty, I’m not sure I remembered them all. But these made my list:


Piano lessons (off and on for years, starting at age 17)

Sunday School classes (children and adults)

Missions organizations (church)

Children’s Choir (two churches)

Children’s Ministry Leader/Teacher

Life Group Leader (church)

Ladies Bible Study

Color Me Beautiful classes

Substitute Teacher, Elementary (on USMC base)

7th grade English/Social Studies

High School Social Studies

Kindergarten

Grade 5 

Elementary Remedial Language Arts

Gifted students grades 1-7 (13 years)

School District Technology Coordinator

Adult computer classes

Adult Basic Education (those studying for GED)

College (English and Teacher Education) (3 colleges)


I know that I sometimes still slip into “teacher mode” when I am with my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. But you know, I think I’ll stop apologizing for that. “Teacher mode” is how God made me, and I kind of like what He did there. I like me. In fact, I am one of my favorite people.


Just to prove that I can be “in” the now moment, too, here is my latest very quick, very easy art piece. I’m spending some time these days on Christmas art, but I painted this plum right before I started on the holiday projects (to be shared later).



I do thank God for the opportunities He has given me through the years to follow my calling. And yes, this continues to be my prayer, even now, for any ways that I am able to continue to BE a teacher…


Let my teaching fall like rain and my word settle like dew,

 like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants.

 Deuteronomy 32:2 CSB

#teacher #calling #grateful #letmyteachingfalllikerain



Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Seasons

I have said this SO many times (for so many years): Fall is my favorite season. Always has been. I love everything about it (except in the PNW it is often the precursor to the rainy season—that I DO NOT like).


But, seriously, just some of the things…

Crisp temperatures outside, sunny and yet a little cool…

The cooking/baking (apple, cinnamon, caramel, soups, chili)

Baseball post-season, and even sometimes college football

Sweaters, sweatshirts, and boots

Autumn colors to use in decor and in wardrobe (this year’s trend is olive green—one of my faves, trending or not)

Autumn fragrances: spiced pumpkin and sparkling cinnamon candles

Playing my favorite “Autumn Leaves” on the piano


Autumn leaves—in MO there are so many oak and maple trees—yellows and oranges and reds. 


These are some pictures from the place where we lived in MO. 















We lived on five acres (Peaceful Acres), and though we love being out in Washington now, with several of our close family (son, DIL, granddaughter, grandson, granddaughter-in-law, great grandson, and great granddaughter), we do miss Missouri, especially this time of year.

In Washington, there are certainly colorful trees (maple, etc.), and the interesting thing here is the different picture that is painted, as you look into the distance—the colorful trees are always mixed in with the beautiful evergreens, and the contrast is stunning.


Another thing I love about the fall is the art projects, really fun for me since, did I mention, fall IS my favorite season.







So, I was going to talk in this post about “seasons of life,” but now that I have this warm, cozy feeling about autumn, I’m not in the mood to spoil it with thoughts such as this: I wasn’t even aware of the seasons of life when I was flying through them (the spring, the summer, even the autumn…)…but now that I suppose I must admit to being in the “winter,” it’s not such a warm, fuzzy feeling. 

So, I just won’t think about it….today.

On another day, I’ll write about the blessings of the “winter” (and there are many), but today I think I’ll just bask in the autumn sun and enjoy THIS season.


Ecclesiastes 3:1
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

#autumn #fallismyfavoriteseason #seasonsoftheyear #seasonsoflife #fallthemeart #mariaraczynska #annamason #watercolor #autumnleaves #toeverythingthereisaseason #ecc31 #homesickforMO #pensivethoughts #peacefulacres

Monday, October 10, 2022

September Catch Up

September always brings a special celebration for hubby and me! On September 8 we celebrated our 57th anniversary. 


I remember noting in my Wedding Memories book, on our fifth anniversary, that I couldn’t believe it had already been FIVE years, and I observed that time surely does fly.

57. Years. Wow. How very blessed we are! God blessed us with two wonderful children (son and daughter), a special daughter-in-law and son-in-law, four grandchildren, a grandson-in-law, granddaughter-in-law, and two great grandchildren (and another due in February). 

I could write blog posts every day with wonderful reports and beautiful pictures of our family, but it would be impossible to stay caught up!

Speaking of Catching Up…

September Art


This is an Australian bird called “Willie Wagtail,” because it wags its tail feathers while looking for insects. I am not pleased with this one, and after finishing it, I decided to switch to a different style for a while, with a different instructor. The bird was done following a tutorial by Louise de Masi.



I began doing some classes in Anna Mason’s School of Art. This style is more detailed (realistic) and is very challenging, much more difficult than the looser style of Louise. I find that it does fit “me” more, in that I tend to be a detail-type person. But, like I said, it is more difficult. Still, I am pleased with the result. This is a Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar.



Another one from Anna Mason’s school, this succulent was tough. I always think of my granddaughter Tory, when I paint succulents, because she loves them!


So, September brought a special awareness that God has blessed us with another year together, and a sense of gratitude for His constant watchcare over us and our family. My husband and I thank God for bringing us together and for giving us a deep and abiding love only possible through Him.



#annamasonart #anniversary #blessings #williewagtail #succulent #citrusswallowtailcaterpillar #watercolor

Monday, September 5, 2022

Watercolor Fruit and Flowers

While I LOVE creatures, especially furry ones and feathered ones, I admit that they are fairly challenging to paint (the fuzzy fur, the fluffy feathers, and those EYES…..)… 

When I first started painting, flowers did not strike my fancy. But now that I am learning to do more detailed (sort of almost realistic) watercolor, flowers and fruit are actually very interesting. I love the bright colors and the shadows and highlights.

So I have been enjoying the tutorials in Anna Mason’s School of Art. Here are some more of my completed pieces from the last few weeks.

Blueberry

Persimmon

Blue Anemone

Tulip

The tulip, finished today, was inspired by a beautiful bouquet that my daughter-in-law brought to my home for the final session of the Ford Girls Book Study (we read the book “Giddy Up, Eunice” by Sophie Hudson and discussed it together). The four of us: Myself, my daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and granddaughter-in-law.


#watercolorbotanicals #watercolor #watercolorblueberry #watercolorpersimmon #watercolorblueanemone #watercolortulip

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Viola (Watercolor)


VIOLA

In the last few weeks I have painted a few botanicals (plants and flowers). When I shared them, with the “caveat” that they are not my “favorite” to paint, several people suggested that I may have “missed my calling,” so I’ve been thinking about painting more botanicals. I gravitate to the little animals (birds and furry creatures) because of my love or them, but I do LIKE flowers as well, so why not paint more of them. Actually, botanicals are easier to paint than animals and birds.

My mother was a lover of flowers and was quite knowledgeable about them. She knew the names of most flowers, and even as recently as a few years ago, I would send her a picture of a flower for her to identify. (She passed away in 2013.)


Violas in a basket on our Patio here in Ridgefield, Washington

We have some violas on our patio. I had thought they were pansies, but as I was reading about pansies and violas when preparing to paint this piece, I learned some things.

Pansies look and act a lot like violas but they have a much larger flower, and larger leaves as well. Another difference between the two fall favorites is that pansies usually only have a few flowers at a time whereas violas have a smaller flower but more blooms.

Also, Pansies were actually derived from violas, so technically all pansies are violas but not all violas are pansies. Violas are often called Johnny jump-ups in the US, as they tend to self-seed and can spread throughout your garden on their own.

Fun Fact: If the flower has four petals pointing upward and only one pointing downward – you’re looking at a Pansy. If the flower has two petals pointing upward and three petals pointing downward – you’ve got a Viola.

Since I’m interested more in botanicals than I thought I would be, I am doing some tutorials with Anna Mason, whose signature style is detail and realism, and she paints mostly botanicals. I think I will enjoy the change from the loose, wet-on-wet style that so many artists seem to be using now. 

#watercolorviolas #violasarenotpansies #annamasonartschool #hotpressedpaper #WinsorandNewtonwatercolortubepaints #realisticstyle 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Creative Outlets

So, I have realized that as I continue to practice my watercolor painting, I should cease trying to find a single “style” that is mine. I realized this as I recently observed that the artists that I “follow,” and take lessons from, those whose tutorials I attempt, do not themselves have a single “style.” Perhaps I try different styles to discover what I most enjoy, while for them, it’s likely an attempt to prevent boredom!

These two pieces were painted by following lessons from the same artist, and I feel they are actually quite different, and yet I enjoyed both.




It has been a couple of weeks since I painted anything, because I have been catching up with scrapbooking. I now have a pattern of doing two months at a time, so I did Jan-Feb, and then Mar-April, and I just finished May-June. It’s an exercise in self-discipline for me to keep up with this, and I was analyzing that fact as I worked the last few days.

When I started scrapbooking in 2003, it was my very first inkling of perhaps, maybe, a bit of creativity lurking somewhere way beneath the surface in my mind/heart. I had never thought of myself as being the least creative, honestly, and even the bulletin boards in my elementary school classrooms were often the result of my students’ work.

But when I was introduced to scrapbooking, which I “took to” like a duck to water, I saw it as mainly something I LOVED because it combined two of my favorite things in the world: photographs and life stories. Still hidden beneath the obvious was what I now recognize as a love of creating a “layout” — dare I say, an “artistic representation” using those photographs and stories. Seriously? Who knew!

At that time, the trend in scrapbooking was to create very elaborate layouts. Many of the trend-setters in those days would even use one tiny photograph and then embellish the page(s) in a ridiculously ornate fashion. Even then, I rejected that style, because did I mention, PHOTOS and STORIES. Still, that hobby did provide what I now see as a creative outlet.

I “progressed” in my artistic endeavors to doing “mixed media art journaling,” beginning around 2012, and I hung out there for a period of years, designing journal pages and wooden blocks with acrylic paint, fabric, patterned card stock, pages from old books and music, twine, brads, metal embellishments, stamp ink, lettering, and so many supplies that I needed a large room and lots of shelves just to store so many things to choose from when creating a page.

I recently came across a picture of one of those creations. It was fun.


Meanwhile, I continued with the scrapbooking with elaborate layouts, usually placing 5-8 photos on most 2-page layouts. This is a sample page (one side of a 2-page layout).



I usually completed 2-3 large (12x12) scrapbooks per year. So now I have more than 50 albums.



While I continued with the scrapbooking and the mixed media art journaling, I added Bible Journaling. I have four Bibles that contain that work. Example:



So, here I am. It became too cumbersome to maintain an inventory of supplies for mixed media and elaborate scrapbook layouts. Once I began my watercolor journey (ca 2019), with the simplicity of supplies and the challenge of creative output, I discontinued mixed media at such a prolific level, and I backed down on the complicated scrapbook layouts as well. 

Now, I still do some Bible journaling (mainly with watercolor), and I still scrapbook, but I focus on the simplicity of photos and stories. The scrapbooks have become more a record for posterity and not a creative outlet at all anymore, actually.

That was an overview of my “creativity journey,” with a sample from each of the main areas (I didn’t even touch on the tag-making era—or the Smash journal era—all while I was doing the aforementioned projects). If you’re crazy enough to want to see my “creations,” my Pinterest is @bkford. Profile

Now I’m focusing on maintaining the Scrapbooks (life records) and improving on watercolor painting.

Along with the increase in cooking/baking I’ve been doing recently, I stay pretty busy.

And that’s a good thing.

#watercolor #mixedmediaartjournals #Biblejournaling #scrapbooks #CreativeMemories #photos #lifestories #creativeendeavors


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Being Resourceful (in the early 60’s)


This is a story that involves fashion history, a personal story from my memory.


In 1954 the first pair of seamless stockings was created. In 1959 panty hose were invented.


Prior to that and for a while after, until everyone caught up with the changing trend, women wore individual nylon stockings, usually with seams up the back, each stocking fastened at the top, to a garter belt, or secured with a garter (like the blue one that is still often “thrown” at weddings).



When I was a sophomore in high school in the early sixties, we were just beginning to transition from “nylons,” both seamed and seamless, to seamless panty hose. 

In my house, between Mother and my sister and me, sometimes we had an odd number of individual seamed stockings and individual seamless stockings (odd number because we tossed the ones that had “runners” — can’t go into that description right now, but wearing hose with a “runner” would’ve been the height of NOT chic), and we only had maybe one pair of panty hose (always seamless). 


For high school choral concerts, we were required to wear a dress, which also meant wearing hose (we would never have gone with bare legs back then). One evening as my sister (a freshman) and I were getting ready for the concert, we discovered that we had a total of one pair of panty hose and then a single seamed nylon and a single seamless nylon.


With our combined memories, we are not positive about which one of us got stuck with the one seamed/one seamless nylons, but I’m pretty sure it was my sister. But together we came up with the idea for a solution. 



I took Mother’s Maybelline brow color with the little brush, and after my sister put on the nylons, I actually DREW a line up the back of her leg to simulate a seam. Honestly, you couldn’t tell the difference in her two legs! So, she wore “seamed” nylons that night, and I wore the seamless panty hose.

Yeah, we were resourceful like that. We made things work!


#fashioninthesixties #resourcefulsisters #maybellinebrowcolor #pantyhose #seamlesshose #seamedhose #howbrilliantwerewe #weareamazingstill

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Catching Up


We may have gone directly from winter to summer here in the PNW, but no complaints from me. Though we still have the predictable rainy days, we have had several beautiful days of sunshine and warm temperatures. In our little back yard, I was struck by this view from our patio: in the foreground is our Missouri Dogwood Tree (the state tree of our native state), and immediately to the left of the dogwood tree, yet in the far distance, is a lone Hemlock Tree, the state tree of Washington (the state where we live now).

It’s now warm (and sunny) enough for me to enjoy walking outside, and that is a huge benefit in getting all my “Fitbit” steps without having to do so many steps indoors (not fun).


We no longer have our Missouri home where we daily watched many birds and animals in the woods behind our house, but we do enjoy the beautiful goldfinch (state bird of Washington), “flocking” to our feeders here.


We also have a pair of barn swallows who have decided to make their home just under the roof over our patio. Their nest is visible from the dining table, where I work. They don’t mind us at all, and while we have lunch or coffee on the patio, the momma bird just continues to sit on her eggs.

I have three new art pieces that I’m fairly proud of. Full disclosure: I threw one attempt at a kitten in the trash in the midst of completing these. I am finally learning that I simply do not do well with the art style that saturates the paper and then basically throws paint on, hoping the colors and placement will somehow reveal the subject. (Oh, I see yellow with green below it—it’s a sunflower!) That style is simply not me, and while many artists do very well with that style, I finally know, NOT ME.


This beautiful horse has turned out to be one of my favorite pieces so far, and I didn’t even know I could do it, until I tried (lesson there?). When I think about it, though, no feathers, no fur = much easier in many ways.


This one was fun, probably because I do love bright colors, and I love cherries.


This is maybe my second botanical. I do not really love to paint flowers, but I totally enjoyed this simple “plant in pot.”



On to family things, my “girls” and I are about to start a book study (tomorrow). I found a book by Sophie Hudson that is about cross-generational women/relationships in the Bible (Elizabeth and Mary, Ruth and Naomi, Lois and Eunice). I can hardly wait to delve into this with my daughter-in-love, granddaughter, and granddaughter-in-love (while my great grand babies play nearby). We know we will enjoy having fun and studying together. (Today I took my first peek at the content, and already in the Introduction, I had a big cry……I’m overcome with emotion when it comes to generational things……I am SO blessed.)

Hope to be a little more faithful with the blog in coming days. Thanks to those who follow, read, and send me emails/leave comments!

#watercolor #watercolorcherries #watercolorhorse #watercolorplantinpot #giddyupEunice #crossgenerationalrelationships